The Year In Books ~ April

Friday, 4 April 2014

 A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor was my March read for The Year in Books. I have to report that I did not get on with it at all. It started well, I thought I was enjoying it, I could see that the writing was beautiful and that the characters well drawn but I found myself picking up other books and putting off reading it. I couldn't make any emotional connection with any of the characters and simply had no interest in what happened to them. I didn't finish the book I'm afraid. A pity because I was sure I would love Elizabeth Taylor. Maybe this was the wrong Elizabeth Taylor to start with?


 April is looking a lot more enchanting. I've been saving The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim for this month for obvious reasons. I am already very glad I did. Written in 1922 it is the story of four very different women who answer this advertisement.

To Those who Appreciate Wisteria and Sunshine. Small medieval Italian castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let Furnished for the month of April. Necessary servants remain z, Box 1,000
The Times.

What are you reading this April?


47 comments:

  1. Have just read The Enchanted April and really loved it! I'm also devouring all things Barbara Pym at the moment - have you tried her ever?

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    1. I have tried Barbara Pym but I didn't take to her -maybe I need to give her another go.

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    2. Have you read Barbara Pym's Quartet in Autumn? I enjoyed it, it's painful though.

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  2. The Enchanted April is a wonderful book - one of my many favourites. I hope you really enjoy it. Have you seen the BBC dramatisation of the book with Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Polly Walker and Joan Plowright? They did a lovely job and I do recommend it. It's one of those films I turn to when I need a pick-me-up and which leaves me with a smile on my face. A castle in Italy in April...bliss!
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. No, but it's on my wishlist and those are the faces I see as I read.

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    2. Anonymous7:53 pm BST

      I think I saw bits of this, with a very young, charming Michael Kitchen??

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    3. Hello Anonymous. Yes indeed, he played Mr Briggs, the castle owner.
      Best wishes
      Ellie

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    4. The film is perfect watching on a rainy day - pure escapism!

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  3. I loved reading The Enchanted April last year. I'm reading The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford, having finished A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths this morning.

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  4. I don't usually comment on blogs, but I LOVED THAT BOOK! Must see the film too.

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  5. I'm reading the immortal life of Henrietta Lacks. no medieval castles so far.....

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  6. Just finishing Life after Life, which I'm really enjoying and listening to Middlemarch in the car, read by Harriet Walter and loving that too. Precious Bane is waiting in the wings.
    I'd think I'd rather like a month in an Italian castle, especially with servants.

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    1. I think Harriet Walter reading George Eliot might be a good option for me. Precious Bane is on my list.

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  7. I am looking forward to knowing how you get on with this book as I have Elizabeth and her German Garden waiting to be read and would love to know what other Elizabeth Von Armin books are like! xx

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    1. Hello Amy. I have read Elizabeth and her German Garden, The Solitary Summer and Vera, all of which I enjoyed. Vera was the most interesting to me because it reminded me very much of du Maurier's Rebecca, although it came first I think. It's one of those stories where you wish you could advise the heroine - no such luck! I hope you enjoy reading them.
      Best wishes
      Ellie

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  8. I thought I'd follow your lead Sue so I checked out Amazon for a copy of the book & it's a Free Kindle download :-)
    (I don't have a Kindle but I do have an iPad + the Kindle app)

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    1. Thanks so much for the tip, downloading now!

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    2. Thanks for the tip-off, Terri. Sue has reviewed it so glowinglyl that I've rushed off to get a Kindle copy.

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  9. It's a delightful film but I haven't read the book - must put it on the list. I've just read 'Love, Nina' by Nina Stibbe. Letters written during her time as nanny in an unconventional family in the 1980s - Alan Bennet arrives frequently for family supper. Very amusing.

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    1. Just bought this yesterday in the sale section in Waterstones. Looking forward to reading it.

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  10. That book sounds right up my street - on my to-read list now, thank you!

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  11. I also loved Elizabeth and her German Garden. I believe I discovered it on your wonderful post a while back where everyone weighed in with their favorite books.

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  12. I read the Enchanted April and loved it, I took the Gerrman Garden on holiday with me via Kindle and didn't enjoy it so much. The film of the Enchanted April is on You tube. Sarah x

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  13. Loved the film. I can't imagine why I've never read the book. I've just reserved it at the library. Thanks for turning me on to so many good books, Sue.

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  14. I am about to Bring Up The Bodies. Hope I can get into it as Wolf Hall was a bit of a labour of love. I just finished rereading Wilt- still makes me laugh even tho' I have read it many times.
    Have a great weekend, Ax

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  15. Having a bit of a 'retrospective' as re-reading things I've read over & over again - comforting & familiar. Notably, Ngaio Marsh, Joanna Trollope, Susan Hill plus am TRYING to read Kate Mosse. Have never completed a single book of hers but am persevering with this one - I can't even remember the title, it's so gripping! (not) I don't know what I'd do without the pleasure of reading.

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    1. I love Joanna Trollope for comfort reading but only her early stuff -The Rector's Wife and The Choir especially.

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  16. yeah, you should read Richard Burton's diaries and get to know the real Liz Taylor ! i am sure you'd enjoy them .

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    1. Not sure if you're joking or not, but A View of the Harbour is not by the film star.

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    2. only in so far as the RB diaries are a brilliant read and his Elizabeth [ he always calls her that] came as a bit of revelation to me at least
      i did leave a comment when you originally said you were trying out the ET of literary fame to the effect that all the books of hers I have read leave me feeling depressed, that's if I made it to the end, because like you I could not make myself like or care for her dull dull people.
      perhaps you could start a list of books we know we should love but actually cannot finish.
      i will start with Wolf Hall, i've tried and tried again, I like the idea of it, but not the actual book.

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    3. Yes, I remember your comment and you are right I did find her characters dull. Maybe the other Elizabeth Taylor would be a good antidote to dullness.

      I like your idea of a list of books we should like but don't. Dickens would be top of my list because I love him dramatised on telly but cannot get on with him in print. I think I was lucky with Wolf Hall because I listened to it rather than read it.

      Thanks for your stimulating comments.

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    4. I can't cope with Dickens either, much as I'd love to. This month: Alexander McCall Smith. Simple, uplifting, feel-good writing.
      I hope you get on with April's choice a bit better than the previous book. Reading shouldn't be a chore.
      Sarah.

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  17. Yes, Enchanted April is an absolute favourite, Loved it ever since I first saw the TV programme, I can still remember how wonderful it was. You'll be booking holidays in Italy any day now...

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  18. I'm reading The Cleaner of Chartres, by Sally Vickers, a favourite author of mine. And I was given a copy of Wolf Hall and ...ashamed to say, have not opened it yet, so don't even know whether I would enjoy it or not. Very unusual for me to have an unread book lying around for so long! Next month perhaps.

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  19. I love Enchanted April, the film and the book. I then went on to read more Elizabeth Von Arnim, she was Katherine Mansfield's cousin, and I love her writing more than Katherine's which is almost heresy in NZ. I am reading an old favourite Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher, in preparation for the coming winter, and grudgingly ploughing through Elizabeth Jane Howard's latest.

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  20. I'm so sorry you didn't get on with ET. I think she's like marmite (like so many writers, in fact Dickens and, dare I say it, Charlotte Bronte, for me) and I know that when I recommend her to friends I always do so with a note of caution. Some LOVE her and the others just think it's all a bit meh! I'd say don't bother with Barbara Pym as she's very much in the same vein as ET. Others may disagree. Anyway, I'm now off to download Enchanted April.

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  21. The Enchanted April is one of my all time favourites and has been re-read many times, I also love the film too which is unusual as sometimes the films don't live up to the books:)

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  22. Thank you so much for alerting me to Elizabeth von Arnim! Have read 'Enchanted April' as it was free on the Kindle app on my lap-top & have just bought her collected works for all of £1.29. What a pleasure she is to read - am enchanted!!

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  23. I've just begun "A View from the Harbor" and I am getting that ominous feeling that I won't be with it long. It already feels depressing and plodding. I will press on and try to read some more in order to be fair but when that mental alarm bell rings, it is rarely wrong.
    Thank you however for suggesting authors I am not familiar with. It's a comfort to think of all the books out there still waiting to be read.

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  24. Why don't you try Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont? That might be a way for you to enjoy ET.

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    1. I wish I had started with that one Toffeeapple. I haven't given her up for good.

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  25. 'Enchanted April' sounds, well, enchanting so I'm going to look out for it. Hate it when a book doesn't live up to your expectations - sometimes it's just best to leave it.

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  26. What a great choice. And not just because it's April ;)

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  27. I just read 'The Fault in our Stars' which I suspect you would LOATHE, being a) written by a man b) set in America and c) about teenagers with cancer. I'm not sure why I read it given that I am normally allergic to reading the thing that half the people on the tube are reading at the moment, but read it I did. Now I am on to Toast and Marmalade - the Emma Bridgewater memoir. Good so far...

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  28. I love your choices, always unusual and fascinating.

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